Kidding Around: You want me to weld?

Jan. 25, 2013 @ 05:53 AM

I have talked to a few students about their senior projects lately. I know that a couple of weeks ago, the first group of seniors presented their projects to a room of judges. I also know it was probably very nerve-racking for many of them.

It wasn't that long ago that I was in those seniors' shoes. Well, it was six years ago, but it seems like yesterday.

I remember being a senior in high school, hating my life because I knew that I had to spend an entire semester stressing about one project. The one project that would determine whether or not I graduated. Where was the justice?

My parents and I talked and talked and talked some more about what kind of project I could do. Of course all of the obvious ones like learning to play an instrument, working on cars and raising money for various charities, were already taken.

Finally, my daddy suggested welding. What? Welding? Was he serious? I'm a girl, not a welder. But then again, who else would choose to do that?

Turns out, daddy had a friend named Donald Brady that was a pretty good welder. He even had an UFO that he welded as decoration in his yard. After persuading him to be my mentor, my senior project began.

Mentor hours, a research paper and a presentation of a product were the only things standing in the way of graduating high school. I could do that right? I sure hoped that I could.

In the end, I learned how to use a mig welder and a plasma cutter to make my final product; a sign that said ERHS (Eastern Randolph High School) which I donated to the library.

I couldn't believe it. I had made a sign out of junk metal all by myself. Well, with a lot of help from Donald, but I still felt accomplished.

The product wasn't the worst part anyway. The worst part was standing in front of a group of people and speaking. I was a terrible public speaker. You may not know it now, but I am actually a pretty shy person. I have gotten a lot better lately, especially from doing this job.

I am not sure what it is, but something about speaking in front of others makes me feel queasy. When we practiced our speeches in front of our classmates, it was fine because we were all equally terrible. But speaking in front of judges, that was terrifying.

Eye contact Erin. You have to make eye contact.

I can't tell you how many times I heard that.

When the big night came, I remember waiting anxiously in the students commons before it was my turn. I think that waiting was the worst part. Finally, I walked into that classroom with my poster and PowerPoint, ready to try my best to make eye contact and freaking out that I was going to forget my speech.

I don't remember much about how it went, I don't even remember who I had for judges, but I do remember making them laugh. Once I did that, I knew I was going to be fine.

It was quite easy to get them laughing actually. I just told them the story of my first spray painting experience.

I had painted my sign green and gold because those were my school colors. I had never used spray paint before, so I was excited about trying something new. Donald told me to shake the can until the clicking noise stopped, and then I would know that the paint was ready. Needless to say, after i shook it for a while, he let me off the hook. Silly Erin.

Although, my project had nothing to do with any future career that I would pursue, it was still a valuable learning experience and I actually had fun. Just don't ask me to show you how to weld. I haven't touched a welder since the day my sign was finished. I am still a girl remember?

I made an A on the project by the way.